Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Genre: General Fiction

Source: Waterstone’s website


I have seen the trailer for the movie adaptation for this film and it came up in an Amazon bestseller list so thought I’d give it a go. I’ve also gotten over my fear of reading bigger books after I read The Shining and loved it so I gave this a go. This was also promised to be an epic love story which I was in the mood for.

This was a frustrating read. I always want characters to do different things than what I read. I liked one message in the book, that you should pursue your dreams and live a life you can be proud of. But there are huge issues in this book that need to be addressed related to disability.

Lou is employed by Will’s family with 2 months to convince him not to commit assisted suicide.

The relationship and love elements to this book ruined it completely, it’s not what anyone signed up for. There was a massive build up to an epic love story where love conquers all which never happened. Will (who had suffered a bike accident and left him with disability) was intent on ending his life. Which leads to the underlying dangerous message of this book, where even when Will has everything he wants, living a disabled life is enough for him to want to die.

Disability and assisted suicide has been a huge topic of conversation on this book, one reviewer in Goodreads writes;

‘This [book] sic. reinforces dangerous assumptions society already has about people with disabilities. Many (able bodied) [characters] sic. have commented that they completely understand Will and if they were in his position they’d want to die too. They are wrong… there is data on this- that the vast majority of people with similar disabilities as Will do not want to die.’ – Ela, Goodreads.

I doubt this was the intention of the author but it is an issue with the book that cannot be ignored. I cannot find anything online that states her opinion on this matter.


Happy reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Featured image by Pedro Monteiro @ unsplash.com

Book review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Waterstones listing


Synopsis

Casiopea and her mother are servants in their own family home, with the loss of her father who dreamt of stars and wrote poetry, they are under Casiopea’s grandfather’s control. He has a secret past in helping the ancient Mayan god of death Yacub- Kamé with a quest to entrap his brother, Hun-Kamé, the true ruler of Xibalba (the underworld), to a lifetime locked in a treasure chest. Casiopea unwittingly frees Hun-Kamé and is tethered to him, she is becoming more godly and he is becoming more human. They go on a magical journey to save the world from Yacub-Kamé, who wants to increase his power by sacrificing humanity. Can they regain him his throne and give Casiopea a life of wonder even the stars would be jealous of?

What I Thought

I really liked the premise of this book, Casiopea was at war with her cousin and with him being a man, he had the respect of the family and she was blamed for everything. She had a lot of strength and sass from the offset and I was so excited for her journey. When we met Hun-Kamé it was amazing, they left Yucatán and started an adventure. As the story went on, I couldn’t help but think it was slow and missed a lot of opportunity for more magic. When we met Loray, the devil, he handed over what Casiopea and Hun-Kamé sought, they moved on to the next place and the next person and the same situation happened, their encounters seemed brief. I wanted to get lost in the mythology of this, I think I definitely amped it up in my mind when in reality it was more of a tale of adventure. I haven’t read a lot of mythology fiction before and I thought it would be a lot more fantastical and dripped in magic.

For the first time in my reading history, I was really into the romance element of this book. I usually hate romance storylines, but the story here was a more will-they-won’t-they storyline and I stuck with this book mainly to see this out because it was a really lovely element to the book.

What I Appreciated

Learning more about Mayan mythology was amazing, I had only ever read Greek mythology before and was excited to meet these gods. There was a lot of travelling around Mexico in this story, I loved to learn more about the cities and the culture. If I wasn’t so scared of flying this is somewhere where I would love to visit!

It was very interesting how the main characters were linked together, the brothers were at war with each other and Casiopea was at war with her cousin. As the story progressed, Hun-Kamé became more human, Casiopea was turning into a goddess, there was a pull between humanity and diety and a duality betweeen love and hate which was amazing to read.


Overall, the premise of this book was good but I felt frustrated a lot of the time reading this because I was greedy and just wanted so much more magic. I would highly recommend this book if you like adventures and Mayan mythology!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Bookstagram

I decided to delve deeper into the world of books and follow bookstagram accounts over on instagram!

These accounts are absolutely stunning, I want to be involed so decided to post a few pictures myself and everyone has been so welcoming, I can’t believe how nice everyone is, it’s so lovely. I feel like I’m part of a huge book club and have already got a handful of book recommendations and I am really inspired to read more fantasy and thriller novels.


Has anyone else on here got a Bookstagram? I’d love to follow!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎


https://www.instagram.com/charlonsbookcorner/

Book Review: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Source: Waterstones online order


Synopsis

Antara has suffered at the hands of her mother for years, she was abusive and never showed her love or affection. Now, her mother is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and is relying on Anatara to look after her. This is a story of a toxic mother- daughter relationship without closure.

What I Thought

This was so difficult to get into, it was so flat and relied so much on the premise of Antara’s mother being awful and now Antara has to care for her mother and it didn’t move much further past that. Her father never cared for her either but this was much more overlooked. There was a lot of women hating women in this book and it really didn’t sit right with me. I think it was unknowingly very mysoginistic and I struggled to get to the point of the book unfortunately.

The novel is shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. I think that at some point down the line, I’ve really missed the underlying theme of this book. I think it’s gone over my head because of my initial issues with it. As the book progressed, I believe that Antara was a mirror image of her mother in some way, they were tied to eachother in such a strange way. I may have to read this again and try to have a different perspective on it.


Has anyone else read this book? I really want to see a different side of this book!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Source: Watersones listing


When I finished this book, I just had to sit there and take it all in. This book is amazing. There was so much said and so much representation. It had a lot to say about life, people, society and beliefs (religious and political). Reading this was an ethereal experience and I’m so glad I finally got around to buying it.

Synopsis

Leila is lying dead in a rubbish bin in Pera, a city in Istanbul known for liberalism, debauchery and Westernization. As her body is shutting down, neurones in her brain are still ticking away, bringing back scents and memories both distant and not so long ago. We learn about Leila’s upbringing, the pains from her family home and how Leila obtained her freedom, moved to the city and built friendships stronger than family.

What I Thought

I loved the main charater Leila, she was feisty, loved life and loved being in the city. I loved the friendships in this story, her friend Nalan said that there is your blood family and your water family and sometimes water is thicker than blood. They were such good friends to eachother, all bonded by having to leave their families for a better life or to live out their destinies in the city. I haven’t felt so much towards characters in a book for a long time, I truly enjoyed getting to know them.

The representation in this book is phenomenal, the friendship group featured in this novel came from all walks of life and they breathed so much life into this story.

What I Appreciated

This book is quietly educational in terms of the history of Istanbul and the treatment of sex workers and covers political and religious topics extremely well. Shafak does not shy away from depicting issues covering violence, the massacre in Istanbul on International Workers Day and the treatment of women.

There was a lot of symbolism with the blue betta fish, the cycle of life and destiny. It was so interesting and so satisfying to read, it was so so well written. This is a truly soulful, beautiful, political, spiritual and original novel.


Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

March| Celebratory TBR: World Book Day, International Women’s Day, World Poetry Day…

My first ever TBR!

I wanted to create a short TBR for the next month to celebrate events in March. I’m so excited for these reads and to jump into reading some poetry.


World Book Day

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This event brings back memories for me as a child. I always remember hiding books at the book fair to come back for. I would ask my mum for pocket money to buy them, I recall doing a lot of vacuuming and washing up for them! I loved reading so much when I was young, I remember my grandma said I was a book worm and I loved that phrase. I recall reading so many Jacqueline Wilson books with my friends, I loved her so much!

As I grew up, I loved to read about Greek Mythology, I was enthralled by it. So in honour of that, I think Gods of Jade and Shadow would be a perfect way to remember how I love the mythical, ethereal side of reading so much for World Book Day.

International Women’s Day

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Following the realities of the female immigrant experience in America, Ana has to face the choice between her family duty and her personal freedom. This book is long listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020.

I want to read this for International Women’s Day because I want to read from a different female perspective and I believe women are always torn between living for other people and living for themselves. I think this will be a very eye-opening read that I want to push to the top of my TBR.

Mother’s Day

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

I was scrolling through Waterstones (I can’t get enough of their site layout recently) and saw this. It looks a bit of a rare premise to a book and it piqued my interest. A toxic mother-daughter relationship is presented in this book. I haven’t read any stories focused on a mother and daughter relationship and thought this would be a very interesting read.

World Poetry Day

Selected Poems of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes

I read The Bell Jar in college and I remember it being astounding. I want to read this through a more experienced lense now, maybe I will repurchase it for next months book binge (god help my credit card because I can’t stop).

For World Poetry Day, I want to read some of Plath’s poems. Quite frankly, I’m scared of poetry. I find it very inaccessible and intimidating to read. I have flashbacks to first year of uni and feeling so out of my depth not understanding John Donne and just feeling stupid, really.

However… I want to give it a go and what would be a better time than on World Poetry Day. In knowing a bit about Sylvia Plath and enjoying The Bell Jar so much, I believe her poems would be a perfect introduction.


Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

My First Month on WordPress

I’m so happy that I’ve joined WordPress. I feel like I’m now part of a fantastic book community and each day I’m so inspired by book blogger posts! I have always tried to get my friends to read the same books, to discuss them and love the same characters. I feel like I’ve joined a huge book club and I’m made up!

Especially with lockdown, I have been reading so much more and am loving the escapism books provide. I work as a barista and in these very quiet months I have been working alone so I’ve been able to read all day at work. I can’t imagine having customers sat in the shop again and not being able to read, it is a weird thought.

It’s been so exciting to learn something new with WordPress, to have something to work on that I already love so much and not worry about what I’ll do in my spare time. I feel like I’m taking my reading hobby to a whole new and exciting level. I feel so much more motivated in life at such a difficult time in all our lives, I can’t explain the joy this blog is bringing me.

I love to read other blogger’s reviews, TBRs and general book thoughts. I wish I had joined so much earlier! I’m in awe at all your blogs and your writings.

Thank you to everyone who has read my reviews so far, you are giving my poor friends and family a well deserved break from my talking! 😂

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Featured image credit: Dollar Gill on unsplash.com

Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

My rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Pace: Slow

Source: Waterstones valentine’s recommendation


Synopsis

Connell and Marianne are from the same town and the same school but this is where their similarities end.

What I Thought

The polarity between the two characters was so satisfying to read, it was so evenly written out. Connell was poor, Marianne was rich. Connell was popular, Marianne was not, Connell had a loving family, Marianne’s were abusive.

They were a true ‘opposite attracts’ story without clichés that I hate so much. I usually dislike romance stories because they make me cringe but this was different. It was so realistic. It was a salt of the earth story; so gritty and honest in subjects like sex, relationships, domestic abuse and depression. I loved the push and pull of Marianne and Connell’s relationship, how they always came back to each other and always will.

What I Appreciated

I loved the literary references throughout the story, the characters loved to read and studied novels like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë which I also studied at uni and it made the story so much more familiar and accessible to me. There were also a few novels in there that I now want to read, which is always good!

Series Adaptation

I haven’t seen the television series yet but it’s next on my watch list! I can’t wait to see these characters brought to life on screen.


Has anyone else read this or watched the series show? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎

Book Review: The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

My rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction/ General Fiction

Pace: Slow

Source: Costa Book Awards announcement

“ I knew she was from ancient times, from times when people knew magic, when people saw gods everywhere and talked to the plants, the animals and even the fish in the sea.”


The embellished writing, the beautiful mythical theme, the talk of heart-mates, the push and pull of life and loneliness. There is endless beauty to this book.

What Is It About?

Aycayia was cursed by jealous women over a thousand years ago to live a lonely life as a mermaid. She is lulled to Black Conch bay by David’s singing. Fishermen pull her ashore and she spends her time above water loving, learning and never quite running away from the women who cursed her even though they are long, long gone.

What I Thought

The way this is written is beautiful, there are parts of speech written in the Black Conch vernacular that makes you slow down with your reading and enjoy the story. It is the perfect mythology mixed with modern day, it was conscious of class, colonialism and history also.

I usually break the spines on books and fold the pages (sorry to admit that) but not with this one! I just wanted to cherish this story, the feel of the book and the cover are so astoundingly beautiful so how could I?

What I Appreciated

The author introduced me to new words such as bougainvillea and tabanca. I love when this happens, I was introducted to new imagery and emotions. This is when you know a book is good!


I wish I could read this again for the first time!

Thanks for reading,

Charlon 🧜🏻‍♀️

Book Review: Writers and Lovers by Lily King

“I can’t go out with a guy who’s written eleven and a half pages in three years. That kind of thing is contagious.”

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Casey is suffering. She is suffering the loss of her mother, suffering in her restaurant job, her mental health, her physical health and the shitty dating pool of writers.

I’ve always found it weird to read about writers, I’ve never learnt about or followed authors because I feel people taint their work if that makes sense. It takes the magic away from books that are so ethereal, intelligent and heartwarming which a lot of times people are not. This is a naïve attitude I know and in reading reviews on Goodreads, I have noticed everyone also loved Euphoria by Lily King, maybe I should give it a read and finally get over this fear of following authors!

Themes of deep fear, pain and misogyny run through this book. All the way through I just wanted Casey to find a way to be ok. The book was an ode to how people are fickle, how hurtful love and life can be and the true suffering that goes on in life.

I wish Casey found a way to be ok in herself, and did not have to rely on a successful career to make everything ok. As soon as she got money, there was no comment on how she was dealing with the loss of her mother or the results on her hospital tests. I feel like the book ended where it shouldn’t have.

If you take the ending away, it is a raw account of the pains of love and loss. With it, it’s a tribute to how money solves all your problems.

Thanks for reading,

Charlon ♦︎